We have known for years that distracted driving is a problem on America’s roads, but recent studies are revealing just how much of a problem it is. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that we spend over half of our time behind the wheel focused on a task other than driving and that distracted driving contributes to over 5,000 fatalities each year. Understanding that the problem is about more than just texting and driving may help reduce these frightening numbers.
Distracted Driving Statistics
While it’s not always easy to determine the cause of a crash after the fact, especially when it may involve some form of distraction, officers at the scene do their best to identify signs of possible distraction that may have contributed to the crash. Along with noting the presence of passengers, food, pets, and technology, cell phone activity may be investigated to find a cause. The following are important statistics regarding distracted driving accidents:
- In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving.
- The age group of drivers with the highest potential to be involved in a distracted driving accident are 15-19 year olds. 10 percent of this age group killed in accidents were found to be distracted at the time of the collision.
- The average person takes their eyes off the road for 5 seconds when sending a text message. A vehicle traveling at 55 mph has traveled the length of a football field in this amount of time, all while the driver is essentially driving blind.
- The percentage of drivers using handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Since 2007, drivers aged 16 to 24 have been found to use electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
Most of us think first of cell phones when we think about the causes of distracted driving, but phones are not the only distraction. The following list (not ranked in any particular order) is a short collection of devices and factors we have seen cited on Indiana accident reports in association with the causes of distracted driving:
- GPS unit
- Car radio or stereo
- Reading (newspaper or book)
- Cell phone
- MP3 player (iPod)
This collection includes a number of expected offenders as well as a couple of surprises, and while cell phones continue to be one of the leading causes of distracted driving, this problem is far from just a texting-and-driving or talking-and-driving crisis.
Hands-Free Technology Is Not the Answer
While automakers have offered many hands-free options in an effort to reduce distracted driving and legislators have generally allowed the use of these devices, studies show that users are still distracted while using hands-free technology and it may not be the answer. A University of Utah study in 2015 revealed these surprising facts:
- Drivers in the study found it highly distracting to use hands-free voice commands to dial phone numbers, call contacts, change music, and send texts.
- Drivers failed to re-focus their attention on the task of driving for a full 27 seconds after disconnecting from a hands-free phone call.
- The studies also showed older drivers—often because they struggle with the technology—are much more distracted than younger drivers when giving voice commands.
- Voice-dialing, voice-contact calling, and music selection using in-vehicle information systems were studied in 10 model-year 2015 vehicles. Three were rated as moderately distracting, six as highly distracting, and one as very highly distracting.
The reason hands-free technology is distracting is that, although you are not removing your hands from the wheel and looking down at a phone or entertainment system, you are still cognitively distracted, meaning your mind is off the task of driving and that has proven to be nearly as dangerous as having your eyes off the road.
Indiana Cell Phone Law
In Indiana, it is legal for drivers over the age of 18 to talk on a hand-held device while driving. However, texting while driving is illegal and is a primary offense, meaning you can be pulled over and ticketed if a police officer sees you doing it.
Determining Fault in an Indiana Car Crash
Because Indiana is a fault state, knowing whether the driver who caused your accident was distracted behind the wheel may be very important to your case. The attorneys at Keller and Keller will consider this possibility when investigating your case in order to build the strongest case possible. We offer a Zero Fee Guarantee to anyone who was injured by a distracted driver. This means that a consultation with any of our personal injury lawyers is free, and the only way our firm receives payment for its legal services is if a recovery is made on your behalf.